What are the major challenges that you are faced with as the new General Secretary of the MEIBC?
It's important to understand that when I was appointed General Secretary on 15 August, the Bargaining Council had been without a CEO for over a year and a half. Compounding this problem was that a large number of senior managers decided, for one or another reason, to leave the Council. All this occurred during a period were the Council was faced with a number of challenges, both to its continued existence and proper role and function. Nevertheless, the institution due to the hard work, dedication and commitment of its staff and the contribution made by senior employer representatives and union leaders, survived and now, is in the process of rebuilding itself in readiness for the challenges that lie ahead. I'm very fortunate that my management committee understands the importance of gearing the Council for these important challenges and ensuring that at both a leadership, financial and operational level the Council is well placed to meet its mission statement of promoting growth, employment and decent work in the industry. For the Council to delivery on this undertaking we need to not only be properly resourced but more importantly we must be able to reflect the vision and objectives of all our stakeholders in all our dealings with industry. The transition is almost complete and I'm looking forward to not only working with all my stakeholders but more importantly, with all users of the Council, because ultimately we are here to serve.
There has been a reorganisation of the MEIBC's senior management structure. Why was this necessary?
The Bargaining Council is a national body with a national footprint. As the General Secretary I need to build a senior management team that will meet the expectations of industry. My management committee understands this and is very supportive of this process. All our customers expect quality service in return for their hard earned contributions, we understand this, and accept the responsibility placed upon us.
What are your thoughts on the Industry Policy Forum?
I believe that as an industry we are very fortunate to have the opportunity this year to launch the Industry Policy Forum (IPF). The IPF offers the industry an important platform to form partnerships over issues that are critically important to all of us. As the industrial relations developments over the last few weeks have demonstrated, there is no viable alternative to institutional dialogue and engagement. The IPF will offer senior employer representatives and the union leadership a platform to identify, discuss and engage on a number of critically important challenges facing all of us. Key issues around job retention, job creation and competiveness are important to all stakeholders. The IPF will in addition, allow the leadership of this industry, to take their agenda to policy makers and key representatives in government. The IPF, I believe, places this industry in a far more positive position than major sectors around us, in allowing role players to embark on a journey of partnership and engagement in dealing with the critical challenges facing this industry.
What are your views on collective bargaining?
There is no doubt that collective bargaining is under the spot light. Depending on who you ask, you will probably get one or another answer, either in support for or against the model of centralised collective bargaining. My view on collective bargaining is not important, what is important is that the Bargaining Council as the custodian of the agreements entered into between the parties must have the confidence of knowing that collective agreements passed on to us for enforcement, enjoy the support of all stakeholders in industry. Collective Bargaining has always promised certainty. Certainty is not only important to the Bargaining Council but also to employers and employees in industry. Whatever collective bargaining process may unfold between the parties, our industry requires certainty - this stands true whether you are a worker supporting a family or a business owner working hard at running a business.
What in your view is the role that employer bodies/associations will play in the future and& why?
Employer Associations play a vitally important role of reflecting the view of their respective constituencies and in ensuring that the business mandate is indeed representative of the majority of employers in industry. Healthy competition amongst employer bodies is welcomed. Unions are used to having to compete amongst themselves for the voice of workers. Employers are only lately having to come to terms with this relatively new phenomenon. In my view, competition and dialogue amongst competing employer bodies can only lead to a stronger employer voice. Ultimately, a strong Bargaining Council requires strong employer representation through the respective Employer Associations and strong and representative trade unions.
Tell me about your previous work experience and how it will assist you in your new role?
My background and experience reflect the life experiences of many who have come from my generation. I grew up in the struggle era and this period, not only shaped my personal and political beliefs, but ultimately shaped who I am today.
I understand the trade union movement having actively represented workers at all levels from the shop steward to the national negotiator on industry negotiations. As the national negotiator for the biggest trade union in this industry, I have an intimate understanding of both the employee and employer agenda. I feel a strong bond with this industry and I trust that with my experiences and lessons learnt and the time I've spent away from this sector, working as a strategic funds manager at a large insurer, I can make a positive contribution to the industry.
In your opinion, what is the way forward for the MEIBC?
The MEIBC remains committed to promoting growth, employment and decent work in industry. The Bargaining Council has a clear mandate, which is to serve all with honesty and integrity. I look to our stakeholders for support, my management committee for guidance and my staff, without whom none of this would be possible, for their continued loyalty, hard work and dedication. There is no doubt that the future is not what we thought it would be - it's challenging, somewhat uncertain and unclear. I and my management team will be working very hard to ensure that this Bargaining Council remains the benchmark against which all other bargaining Councils can measure themselves.